Webber Drops in on Kosher Pizza Parlor

LIVINGSTON – When a Jay Webber supporter entered the Jerusalem Restaurant Tuesday night,  the candidate was already there, making the rounds of this kosher pizza place. 

“Jay Webber ohav Yisrel,”  the supporter yelled to the crowd.

That meant that Webber loves Israel.

Foreign policy is not usually a major issue in congressional races, save for such moments in U.S. history as the Vietnam War 50 or so years ago.

But in the CD-11 race between Webber and Democrat Mikie Sherrill, the Republican hopes his uncompromising support for Israel will score points with conservatives. Livingston is a very Democratic-leaning place, but not this eclectic eatery on Mount Pleasant Avenue. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, why not a falafel, or some sushi?

It’s all on the menu.

An obvious split between Webber and Sherrill on the Middle East popped up a few weeks ago at a debate in Wayne when the Republican said he supported the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from TelAviv to Jerusalem.

Sherrill didn’t really answer the question, prompting Webber to say he was troubled by her reticence. Asked about it afterwards, Sherrill said it made sense for the American embassy to be where the Israeli capital city is.

Rabbi Elie Mischel, who said he presides over a Livingston temple he described as “modern-orthodox,” said he likes Webber’s strong support for the Jewish state.

Issues involving the Middle East, of course, are complex almost by design.

For more than two decades, Congress has supported relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, but for more than two decades, presidents of both parties have refused to go along. Their reasoning has been simple: relocating the embassy would hurt the cause of peace by infuriating the Palestinians, who have claims to part of what is a divided city.

Webber doesn’t buy that assessment. He says moving the embassy ends any ambiguity about American policy and helps the United States and Israel negotiate with the Palestinians from a position of strength. The long-term effect of the move obviously remains to be seen.

In the short term, for district voters driven by strong support for Israel, Webber is their guy.

Besides his views on Israel, those mixing politics with mostly pizza on this night said they see sincerity in Webber.

“He speaks from the heart,” said Karen Lyman. She said she admires the service Sherrill has given to the country (she is a former Navy helicopter pilot) but that she wants Sherrill to lose. There is something to be said about bluntness.

Barry Janny said Webber is a man of “good character.” Janny compared him to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who attended a Webber rally in the district a few weeks ago.

As for other issues, Stu Ashenberg, who was happily wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, said he worried about school security.

Would he support a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons? Webber does not.

Ashenberg said he’d like to see more gun control, but that the issue is more complex that simply calling for a ban.

There is some much-publicized Republican history in Livingston. 

Chris Christie grew up in Livingston and most famously knocked on the door of fellow resident Tom Kean and expressed an interest in politics. Kean was not yet governor at the time,  and for that matter, neither was Christie. But the rest, as they say. is history.

Past political anecdotes aside, the numbers tell the story. Registered Democrats outnumber their GOP counterparts by more than 2-1. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton got 60 percent of the vote here.

Debbie Burack is a Republican candidate for Livingston Township Council.

She says support for the GOP may exceed conventional wisdom.

“You never know, there’s a lot of hope,” Burack said.

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One response to “Webber Drops in on Kosher Pizza Parlor”

  1. Glad they were able to support all their supporters in the Pizza Parlor. Too bad Mikkie is going to sweep that District with ease! Feel bad for his 8 supporters there.

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